The merry-go-round of terror

Posted by Admin On Friday, 27 September 2013 0 comments
The merry-go-round of terror
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said on Thursday that the Taliban will have to renounce terrorism if peace talks are to move forward. This prerequisite for talks has come after the twin blasts in Peshawar cemented the government’s resolve that first came about after General Sanaullah was targeted earlier in Dir. The prime minister has revealed that contrary to media reports, the Taliban had not only disowned the attack on the church but also the attack that killed the two-star general.
The road to a political solution with the Taliban has unfortunately been rather circular. The roadblocks to dialogue have not been removed and the government now finds itself in a spot trying to circumvent them.
For you see, the Taliban is not a single political entity that can be negotiated with through an office and a spokesman. Yes we need negotiations. No we cannot negotiate with the elements that attack us while peace talks are being conducted. We will also not negotiate with all the groups under the Taliban umbrella because not all of them want peace talks.
And having said all that, Pakistan cannot continue negotiations with the elements in the Taliban that do want peace so long as they refuse to act against the groups that attacked Pakistan during peace talks, when the army halted offensive operations.
Peace negotiations with the Taliban have gained popularity among politicians because of two reasons: firstly, America is also trying to conduct peace talks with the Taliban, thus the argument goes that Pakistan should take advantage of the opportunity, unlike previous years when America frowned upon any attempt to make peace. Secondly, as many politicians have claimed loudly, war has failed to bear any results meaning that the only option is peace.
The first justification is misguided. The second is wrong.
America is negotiating with the Taliban, because American forces want a safe withdrawal. At the end of the Soviet occupation in Afghanistan when the Soviet Union declared a unilateral withdrawal, it approached the Pakistani military to ensure that their troops are not attacked during the withdrawal process. America is doing the same thing. Pakistan is not withdrawing anywhere and the Taliban are not leaving any time soon.
What most Pakistanis forget is that the Taliban did not come into existence after the American invasion. Their aim is not to fight of America. Their aim is to make a transnational Islamic empire. And they have on many occasions in the past said that they will expand into Pakistan.
America will forge a peace treaty to buy enough time to retreat. A similar move by Pakistan will only allow the Taliban to regroup.
Secondly, the notion that this will be the first such attempted peace treaty with the Taliban is not just a lie, but an extremely irresponsible statement. The Pakistani state has, time and again, unilaterally ceased hostilities, specially from positions of relative superiority, only to have the treaties broken mere months later when the enemy forces recovered and regrouped .
The argument this time is that these negotiations will be carried out by a civilian government. Well so were the last one. When the Swat Taliban signed a peace treaty with the government in 2009, it was former president Asif Ali Zardari who sanctioned it with jubilant support from Nawaz Sharif and Imran Khan. And when less than a year later the Taliban broke the peace and the army was ordered to attack, it was sanctioned by Asif Ali Zardari with support from other political parties (a notable exception was Imran Khan’s PTI).
The reason the peace treaty will not last a second time is because the Taliban’s strategic objectives still have not changed. And even if they are distracted by an open field in Afghanistan, they will not vacate the captured territories in FATA.
Thus the circular road. The merry go round of terror. Nawaz Sharif has asked for an annulment of the APC resolution and has called for a revision of plans. Peace- the end goal – appears but a mirage considering the current circumstances. Another blast in Peshawar on Friday (27th Sep 2013) has killed seventeen, injured many. We shall talk…yes… but to who?
By Sarah Eleazar


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